Qual­ity should de­cide school clo­sures

The Hamilton Spectator - - OPINION -

RE: Sadly, some schools should close (July 3)

Sadly, you say, some schools should close. Sel­dom, if ever, in pro­nounce­ments like this, is qual­ity of ed­u­ca­tion re­sults mea­sured, only cost and school size.

Yet mea­sures of the qual­ity of On­tario’s ed­u­ca­tion re­sults (EQAO rank­ings, with all their warts) and cost in tax dol­lars (pub­lished fi­nances) are read­ily avail­able. This strongly sug­gests that an im­por­tant con­sid­er­a­tion in school clo­sure de­ci­sions should be re­sults per tax dol­lar.

I once an­a­lyzed this for Burling­ton schools. It was clear that the Burling­ton sys­tem’s re­sults per dol­lar var­ied a lot. The low­est rank­ing five schools’ re­sults per dol­lar was far lower than the high­est five or of the av­er­age. A sim­i­lar bar chart for school size showed a dis­tinct “sweet spot”: schools pop­u­lated with about 300 to 600 stu­dents pro­duced bet­ter re­sults per tax dol­lar than smaller or larger schools.

It is worth not­ing that, for a cen­tury, Al­berta’s ed­u­ca­tion re­sults from small schools have been world-class, well above On­tario’s. Canada’s Chief Jus­tice, the Rt. Hon. Bev­er­ley McLach­lan, was ed­u­cated in a tiny school in a tiny vil­lage, Pincher Creek, Al­berta. Re­sources? Her school had no gym, no pool; its only “re­source” was a ball di­a­mond on the boys’ side com­pris­ing merely four well-worn tracks in the sod. The girls played hop­scotch on their side. The call to classes was a cow­bell rung out the prin­ci­pal’s win­dow.

Clearly, qual­ity per tax dol­lar as well as pop­u­la­tion should be an im­por­tant cri­te­rion for school clo­sures. Frank Gue, Burling­ton

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